Referred to as the “Keystone State” due to its central geographic location, Pennsylvania is uniquely positioned between the Northern and Southern states; accordingly, Freeman’s upcoming American Furniture, Folk & Decorative Arts auction includes fine examples of Southern-made decorative arts as well as objects with strong historical ties to Southern regions.
Lot 205 in the sale is an engaging portrait of Miss Kirkman (Jane Barbara Kirkman, 1807-1892) of Nashville, Tennessee, as painted by the eminent artist, Thomas Sully. Thomas Sully’s family emigrated from England in 1792 and ultimately settled in Charleston, South Carolina. Although Sully eventually moved northward and is most commonly affiliated with the city of Philadelphia, his widespread and high repute meant that he continually received commissions from affluent Southern clients. As Godey’s Lady’s Book noted in 1844, “Sully, as all the world knows, paints exquisitely beautiful portraits of ladies,” and Sully’s portrait of Miss Kirkman—depicting the nineteen-year-old belle holding a wreath of flowers and posing beside an impressive and colorful floral arrangement—showcases his talent and penchant for creating flattering likenesses.
With its capacity to reflect the wealth and refinement of its owners, coin and sterling silver often featured in sophisticated 18th, 19th, and early 20th century Southern décor. Although many of the prominent silver companies—such as Gorham, Tiffany and Reed & Barton—were located in the north, Samuel Kirk & Son of Baltimore, Maryland was regarded for their iconic repoussé patterns. Lot 215 is an assembled group of Kirk & Son sterling silver repoussé tablewares from the Winder and Tucker Families of North Carolina. Many of the pieces belonged to either distinguished Confederate Brigadier General John Henry Winder (1800-1865), or were presented to his son, John Cox Winder (1831-1896), who lived most of his life in Raleigh, served as a Major in the 2nd Confederate Engineers Company A and worked with the Seaboard Air Line Railway.
Examples of silver made by regional, southern craftsmen are relatively scarce in comparison to those made by their northern counterparts. While Lot 210, a rare coin silver ladle marked for North Carolina silversmith Henry Mahler (1832-1895), warrants attention due to its maker/retailer, the ladle’s stylistic details and ornamentation— its ruffled bowl with gilt-washed interior, the bifurcated shoulder with applied leaf and the whimsical stem and handle etched with stars against swirl background—makes it particularly distinctive and thereby, desirable.
Transitioning from formal to folk, Lot 231 is a rare signed pottery jar, made by John Trapp and Thomas Chandler of Kirksey’s Crossroads, Edgefield, South Carolina. This jar, with its slip decoration applied in the looping pattern characteristic of Edgefield pottery, is of particular interest because it is stamped with the manufacturer’s name. Potteries from the Edgefield district developed and introduced the alkaline glazing techniquethat would become a trademark of 19th century Southern pottery. Trapp & Chandler was an antebellum pottery factory that produced pottery in the second half of the 1840s; the partnership was short-lived, as skilled potter Thomas Chandler began working independently around 1850. After its excavation in 1983, the Trapp & Chandler pottery site was added to the National Register in 1986; containing a kiln foundation with partial wall, a waste pile and a clay pit, it is considered, “the last known intact site of a production center of Edgefield decorated stoneware.”
Images: Lot 205, Thomas Sully (1783-1876) Portrait of Miss Kirkman of Nashville, TN, 1826; Lot 215, Assembled group of sterling silver repoussé tablewares from the Winder and Tucker Families of North Carolina; Lot 210, Coin silver ladle of North Carolina interest, Henry Mahler (1832-1895), Raleigh, NC, mid 19th century